The Educational Welcome of Latinos in the New South

The Educational Welcome of Latinos in the New South

The Educational Welcome of Latinos in the New South

The Educational Welcome of Latinos in the New South

Synopsis

This book describes the educational welcome accorded Latino newcomers in a small Georgia city, which was a product not just of the particular, unorthodox, binational partnership that was created to respond to rapid demographic transformation, but also of the dialectic between local and national scripts regarding what immigrant newcomers deserve and need and whose prerogative it is to determine how they are schooled.

Excerpt

This book, The Educational Welcome of Latinos in the New South, by Edmund T. Hamann, offers a unique view of the challenges faced by a Georgia community and its school district as they sought to respond to the educational needs of a newly arrived Mexican-origin population. As a first-rate ethnography of educational policy, it provides a detailed and nuanced narrative of the roles of community leaders in initiating (and in several cases abandoning) the region's first bilingual education program. What is unique about this volume is that, by describing the efforts of the local elite to respond to the presence of Latinos (through the formation of an innovative binational partnership between the district and a Mexican university) and by describing the district's final rejection of bilingual education, it brings to light ways in which competing values, beliefs, and identities impact the policy process.

Hamann's account is a reminder that what constitutes best practice is not always readily or easily answered, as the answer is contingent upon the judging party's sense of what should be. Thus, in this case, best practice appears to be viewed alternatively as maintaining a district's favorable popular reputation, helping newcomers attach their new learning to previous linguistic and cultural experiences, and figuring out ways to preserve host-community residents' sense of what their community should be in the face of cultural and demographic challenge.

One of the best things about cultural anthropology (and this book firmly identifies itself in that tradition) is the priority given to representing the emic, the worldview and modus operandi, of the people being studied. While Hamann indicates his own frustration and discomfort when some of

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